New Semester, New Attitude

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For many students the start of a new semester means getting away from parents, meeting up with old friends, and going out to party every night. Then after that first week we realize what is truly important: grades! How could we ever forget such a minuscule part of what college is all about?

Get a Plan

So in actuality the start of a new semester should mean the beginning of a new attitude, the laying out of your semester goals, and, finally, figuring out how you are going to achieve those goals. Whether those goals are to earn better grades, gain more friends, or to simply just go to class, you need a plan.

Go to Class?

I was able to meet up with Garrett College Writing Center coordinator Jack DuBose to discuss how students can go about achieving their semester goals. DuBose made it very clear that in order for a student to be successful throughout the semester, he or she must remain dedicated. “The key to success for students is to attend class regularly, to study and review nightly, and to start large projects early,” said Mr. DuBose. “By this I mean you had better be dying to miss class and take copious notes when you attend.” It sounds silly, but if you are not going to class, how will you learn what is being taught? A friend’s notes can only get you so far.


Habits are something a student can’t avoid. Hopefully we are falling into good habits more than bad ones. DuBose thinks that getting into a habit of studying everyday is the most important thing: “Repeat anything long enough and it becomes habitual. Form a study group within your class and utilize library group study rooms at least once a week” to make the habit to stick.


Putting what you can do today off until tomorrow is OK, sometimes. It cannot turn into an everyday occurrence because if it does you will, eventually, be hating life. DuBose said that discipline is key. He suggests keeping a detailed schedule in a planner calendar of what you need to accomplish each day, as well as exam and due dates. My suggestion: sticky notes. You can stick them anywhere and everywhere. Even on your forehead!

Time Management

Words of wisdom from a professor are always good to hear because they have already been through school, but it never hurts to hear how your colleagues are doing things. Iona College senior Kevin McCabe said that by “being a commuting student and working two jobs, I have learned how to manage my time in a better way by knowing my schedule and the times that I need to sit down and get work done.” McCabe said to me that he realizes grades are what are most important to him in college, but that blowing off some steam every now and then is a must. He suggests exercise. “You need to give your mind some time off from work and studying by doing some exercise whether it be by going to the gym or going for a run.”


Achieving good grades and learning how to manage your time are just two goals you can set for yourself this semester. Know what is important, tell yourself you are going to do it, and don’t let anything stop you from achieving that goal. Dive into your studies and learn something.  That’s the real goal.

“We are still masters of our fate. We are still captains of our souls.” –Winston Churchill

Photo: Bohman at

Senior > English > University of Maryland

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